Between 3-4 June 1940, British demolition parties destroyed military material at Dunkirk to deny its use by the enemy. This material included the port’s oil storage tanks. Dunkerque was the third-largest port in France and it was imperative that its facilities and its stores were either disabled or destroyed.
In addition to the demolitions on shore, the Royal Navy scuttled blockships in Dunkirk’s harbour to render it unusable by the Germans. These blockships were: SS Westcove (sunk 3 June), SS Holland (3 June), HMS Env. Nissan (3 June), SS Gurko (4 June), and SS Pacifico (4 June).
Ships off the beaches at Dunkirk, c.3 June 1940. Smoke billows from burning oil storage tanks. © IWM (C 1720)
Aerial view of burning oil tanks at Dunkirk, June 1940. © IWM (C 1723)
A Hudson of RAF Coastal Command patrols over Dunkirk, as oil storage tanks burn fiercely in the background, c. 3 June 1940. © IWM (C 1717)
It appears to have been a quiet week in the Gulf of Aden and the Gulf of Guinea, but not so much in Asian waters.
On 30 October, an underway chemical tanker experienced a boarding approximately 2.5 nm southwest of Outer Tuna Bouy, Kandla Anchorage. During routine rounds, a duty crewman noticed intruders boarding the vessel near the amidships storeroom. He immediately informed the duty officer who raised the alarm and mustered the crew. Upon seeing the crew response, the intruders fled the scene with stolen ship’s stores. Kandla Port Trust relayed details of the incident to the local Coast Guard office.
On 30 October, an underway asphalt tanker experienced a boarding in position 01:21 N – 104:24 E near the Horsburgh Lighthouse, Straits of Singapore. Five robbers armed with guns and knives boarded the ship unnoticed. They took hostage the Officer of the Watch and duty crewman and tied their hands. The pirates stole personal belongings and cash from crew cabins before escaping.
On 28 October, an anchored container ship experienced a boarding at position 21:50 N – 091:38 E in the Chittagong Anchorage. A duty crewman noticed five to six intruders at the poop deck while conducting routine rounds. He immediately informed the bridge and the alarm was raised. Upon hearing the alarm, the boarders jumped overboard and escaped with ship’s stores in their unlit boat.
On 27 October, an anchored chemical tanker experienced a boarding near position 03:56 N – 098:45 E, Belawan Outer Anchorage, Indonesia. Three skiffs approached the ship from the stern, forward and amidships. From the aft skiff, three pirates boarded the vessel and stole ship’s property. The crew noticed the boarders and raised the alarm, resulting in the pirates escaping.
On 26 October, an underway chemical tanker experienced an attempted boarding near position 03:40 N – 103:55 E approximately 35 nm east-southeast of Kuantan Port, Malaysia. Two small craft approached the tanker and tried to come alongside while underway. The Duty Officer raised the alarm and mustered the crew. The Master activated the Ship Security Alert System (SSAS), switched on all the deck lights, and steered a course away from land. Seeing the crew response, the boats aborted the boarding and moved away.
Royal Navy instructional film A191.